Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/87

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WE know that our planet retains the position which it occupies in the solar system through the force of gravitation; we know, furthermore, that all organic life on our earth depends upon the warmth and the light which it receives from the sun; but of the intimate relation which exists between organic life and the changes taking place on the sun we are in comparative ignorance, notwithstanding investigation has brought to light a number of important facts.

That the growth of plants in our zone stands in intimate relation to a rise in the temperature of the earth is well known; but the fact that a force varying in intensity and influencing the growth of the human organism proceeds from the sun is a discovery as novel as it is interesting. Some phenomena, possibly referable to a property of this kind, were observed during an experimental investigation of the diet furnished to the inmates of the Royal Deaf-Mute Asylum at Copenhagen.

When, some years ago, a change of diet was proposed for the inmates of this institution, the director, the Rev. R. Malling-Hansen, thought it desirable to obtain a clear idea of and some definite data concerning the thriving of the children under the system then practiced, by which the results and the value of the new system of nourishment proposed could later on be accurately determined. The conscientiousness of the superintendent and pastor of the asylum would not permit the permanent substitution of a new system of diet without first possessing some facts by which its advantages or disadvantages would be plainly pointed out.

For this purpose the children were daily weighed and measured in groups, in which manner the total weight of the pupils was quickly and accurately ascertained. The technical details as well as full statistics on the subject will be found in Rev. Malling-Hansen's work, "Periodicity in the Weight of Children and in the Heat of the Sun" (Copenhagen, V. Trydes). These weighings present some very interesting facts.

(Until then it had been supposed that the growth of a number of children (of different ages) averaged the same throughout the year, and that the increase in weight as well as in height of a greater number of children might be registered by a straight line slanting upward. The annotations of the weighings and measurements of the Royal Deaf-Mute Asylum at Copenhagen proved, however, that the universally accepted biological theorem is wrong, for the weight-lines of about seventy children had no even gradation but showed great changes during the year. During